Approximately 270km from Hunan’s capital is Wulingyuan, a nature enthusiast’s heaven and World Heritage Site. With over 3,000 towering sandstone pillars you are in for an awe striking experience. The pillars, some rising up an incredible 800m, are considered a type of karst formation creating a spiky stone forest.
Getting to the park is best done from Zhangjiajie City’s domestic airport or train station which you can then take a minibus rather cheaply to the park’s entrance. There is a fee for entering the park however you are then free to enter the park over two days. Once within the park you then have a choice to whether you hike the trails in and around the sandstone creations (highly rewarding), or whether you opt for a cruisy cable car to help you view the massive area.
If you decide you are feeling fit and adventurous, hiking will get you up close and personal to the park’s beautiful scenery. It should be noted that hiking isn’t for the fearful as there are some rather daunting passages at times with steep drop-offs therefore a fear of heights will not serve you well!
There are a few spots along the Wulingyuan preserve that you should make an effort to see. The first is the all important Huang Shi Zhai, Wulingyuan’s highest peak at a whopping 1050m. From here the panoramic views are uncontested unless the mist gets in the way. Note that a cable car runs to this lookout point for those wanting to bypass the 3878 steps to the top! Those feeling energetic should plan on a two hour hike or more.
Once you have conquered the highest peak, make a special effort to get a glimpse of the First Bridge of the World. Similar to the famous Xianren Qiao, this bridge is a naturally formed rock bridge which can be walked across with the help of guard rails. Apart from the bridge itself, it is also a great lookout point for some incredible views.
Lastly, before heading out of the park, explore the sensation of the Yellow Dragon Cave, also known as Huanglong Dong. Best viewed by a boat tour where you can explore the 11km of illuminated cave, it is a stunning sight not to be missed.
It is recommended that you don’t try and explore Wulingyuan during summer as it can get extremely humid.